How I Deal with Life.....

How I Deal with Life.....

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mountain Memories/Goodbye to Uncle Jim/Advice

Mountain Trip
Mom and I drove up to the mountain cabin in Hiawassee on Monday to check on the new heating/ac unit she had installed.  We reached Helen around 5:00 p.m and there was still a dusting of snow covering the ground.  The mountain road between Helen and Hiawassee was traffic free and peaceful, unlike the "on" season when it is packed with vehicles bumper-to-bumper taking the curves and dips of the twisty road like a freight train of coupled cars.

Two whole days of  just me and my mom junkin' in thrift stores, roaming directionless, eating good food, and relaxing in the evenings tucked away inside the cabin are almost over.  We will head home tomorrow. This has been a much needed get-away for Mom, but I know that she is thinking of dad every minute. The conversation has shifted several times to the dreams her and dad had and how much dad loved this cabin. She has talked of his planned projects and pointed out places they have visited together. The first night here, she wore dad's bathrobe; a bathrobe that has been hanging in the bedroom closet untouched since he wore it in March.  That was the last time Mom took him to the cabin, and they had to leave the next day. Dad was up all night thinking someone was trying to  break in.

     Every twisty road, every little locally owned restaurant, every ramshackle thrift shop in the area holds a memory for my mom  In fact, we stopped at an almost hidden away junk shop today because Mom remembered her and dad once stopping there. I never would have even noticed it on my own. Dad, like me, loved to go junkin'. 

   Sad News
While Mom and I were heading into town this afternoon I received a phone call. My cell phone routes calls through my car's Bluetooth, so every phone call is heard by every person who is in the car .  I answered the phone and the caller informed us she had bad news. I glanced at mom and her face was virtually washed free of any color.  I could see by the sheer terror on mom's face that she thought dad had died. I don't think she'd ever forgive herself if that happened while she was this far away from him

     I told the caller to hold on while I pulled the car into a convenience store parking lot. As soon as I stopped the car, I informed the caller I was parked and she could proceed. The caller paused, dragging out the reason for the call with mutterings that didn't make much sense. She wouldn't get to the reason for the call. My mind was jumping ahead trying to figure out what had happened and when. Mom didn't say a word and her silence spoke louder than any words could have. It seemed like the air and peripheral sound hung suspended. The caller finally blurted out that she wasn't calling about dad.  Until that second I don't think I was even aware that I had been holding my breathe. (After I hung up the phone I thought: if something had happened to dad this wouldn't have been the person who would have phoned us.. it would have been my husband or the hospital, but people who are in the sudden grip of  "the moment" don't think rationally). Turned out that it wasn't my dad who had died, but my great Uncle Jim, very suddenly about an hour before the call.  His death was totally unexpected.

Uncle Jim
My Uncle Jim was a good man. A kind man. A gentle man. A retired educator, he was loved by so many people. He had a warm smile and a wonderful sense of humor. I never heard anyone say a bad, or even semi-bad word about him. His family has my condolences.  What more can I say? It's not like I can flip my heart inside out and let my uncle's family see how much a heart can hurt for them. I wish I could. I cannot fathom how lost they must feel tonight. They didn't even have time to prepare or say goodbye.

A bit of advice to anyone who finds himself/herself in the position of relaying bad news to those who have a loved one hospitalized long term with a terminal illness: If it is not their hospitalized loved one you are phoning about IMMEDIATELY assure the family members of this fact. No hem-hawing around. No hinting. No beating around the bush. Take a moment to think about what you are going to say when you phone. Do not cause family members of the long term hospitalized/terminally ill any undue stress, if it can be helped. Believe me, they have enough already without your drama.
Advice over.

   Last Thoughts Before Sleep
 Now mom is sleeping in the next room and I am sitting alone in the quietness of the night in the cabin's safe interior. I can feel dad's presence and see his small touches everywhere I look.  It's unsettling to think he will never set foot here again. I miss my dad with an intensity sometimes that almost cuts my chest in two. And I will spend the afternoon with him this weekend.  How does a heart put those two pieces of information into any comprehensible location of logic? It doesn't, believe me. The heart simply closes down and refuses to ponder the reality of the situation. Except late at night. Then it opens the door to reality a shadowed bit and peeks quickly before shutting it again.

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